13 Sunday in Ordinary Time
MK 5:21-43 OR 5:21-24, 35B-43
When I was in middle school, my parents invested in a set of World Book Encyclopedias, including an enormous dictionary. They felt that the best way for me to learn was through self-help. So, from that point forward, whenever I asked them something, rather than simply feed me an answer, they encouraged me to, “Look it up!” But they didn’t leave it there. They turned the tables with questions directed at me. “What does it mean? What did you learn? How can you use this knowledge?” (I imagine, today, parents using this tactic would simply say: “Google it!”)
I recall an occasion when I took the initiative and “looked up” a word that I didn’t understand but that I kept hearing on TV, in hospital shows and in war movies as well. “Triage” was the word. If you Google it today, this is what you will learn:
TRIAGE: a sorting of and allocation of treatment to patients and especially battle and disaster victims according to a system of priorities designed to maximize the number of survivors.
b: the sorting of patients (as in an emergency room) according to the urgency of their need for care.
Having learned what “triage” meant, I used this newly acquired knowledge in my image of Jesus and His healing ministry. I envisioned the large crowds that engulfed Him. I could almost hear the roar of voices calling out in hopes of attracting The Lord’s attention…desperate for a cure…healing…relief from suffering. And, it occurred to me that the Apostles and disciples had the responsibility to “triage.”
It only made sense to me that there had to be a system to sort out supplicants “according to the urgency of their need for care.” Pretty smart for a kid, even if I say so myself. But my image broke down when I first heard today’s Gospel. Why would Jesus take the time to stop and deal with a woman who was losing blood, when there was a young girl about to lose her very life? To me, this didn’t seem like a good system of prioritizing. There needs to be triage, doesn’t there?
And so we turn to the Readings for this 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time. When we reflect on them…What does it mean? What did you learn? How can you use this knowledge?
Possibly a more mature understanding of Jesus’s use of His healing powers begins with God the Father. God never intended for there to be sickness, suffering, or even death. We brought that upon ourselves. Knowing we are greatly afflicted, God does not categorize us according to “urgency for care.” Each of us, in one way or another, is in need of healing. Each of us, to one degree or another, suffers from the loss of grace…even as the woman’s life was trickling away due to the loss of blood. All of us are dying. With each passing day, we get closer to the end of our lives. There is, however, Good News in this stark reality. God sent Jesus to heal us. God sent Jesus to stop the bleeding and to raise us up to a new life in the Spirit.
Best of all…God does not triage. All we have to do is ask…and we move right to the head of the “urgent care line.”